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Fact Check

I've already provided a link-rich refutation of this revisionist history, and this claim that democratic transformation was some sort of new rationalization is, not to put too fine a point on it, an out-and-out lie, readily fact-checkable and in fact already fact-checked, that the Times should be ashamed of.

What's more, the Times editorial board should be very careful to confuse "wrong" with "fictitious," given its miserable performance on the war.
I remember doing a residential hall program about this in Brittany at NYU in 2003 to debate the then-upcoming war. No one could refute that the benefit of bringing about a democratic reform in the Middle East would be wonderful. Only skeptics could chime in on the likelihood of the event, or disagree that this is at all a wise venture.

It would be premature to say we've been proven right or wrong, but it is always worth the time to refute baseless attacks from a somehow-still-reputable news source.


At 10:10 AM, Blogger Miguel said...

There are good reasons to presume "Freedom," "Liberty," "Democracy," and such abstractions were not the reason we went to war.

1. Because of the administration's amazing prewar efforts to convince that Saddam Hussein posed a military threat to the US (Colin Powell at the UN, Cheney talking about mushroom clouds, drone planes (haha), etc.)

2. Because of the contempt with which Bush spoke of nation-building during his campaign in 2000 (in fact I thought he had the better of Gore on the issue of whether secular humanist democracy is a gift given with cluster bombs.)

3. Because his ideological predecessors as president, Bush and Reagan, had both clearly decided that Arab tyrants were not worth the attention of the US Army as long as they threatened only their own people.

The invasion was surely a part of a plan to make certain concessions to important global Islamic fundamentalists by removing our troop base from Saudi Arabia, a decent strategy which can be debated on its merits.

PS, wasn't Iraq more free before the war, in some respects -- like it's ability to make war with its neighbors? It certainly couldn't attack Israel or Iran now if it wanted to, which it does.

PPS will it not always be premature to say we're right or wrong? For all we know, Uday might have taken over, raped all the women of Iraq, and nuked the eastern seaboard of the US by now. Or is something gonna happen where will all say: "that proves it, we were wrong" (or "right")?

At 10:24 AM, Blogger Miguel said...

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on Iraq:

"So therefore winning or losing is not the issue, in my view, in the traditional, conventional context of using the word 'winning' and 'losing' in a war," he said.

Clearly this is what the pope means by a "Dictatorship of Relativism."

At 10:40 AM, Blogger Ivan said...

1) There are multiple reasons.
2) 911 changed things.
3) His predecessors were wrong to choose temporary convenience in siding with dictators.

PS - free as individuals is more important than free as a government/collective. Clearly freedom has increased ('especially for the insurgent thugs - HA!'--ed.)

PPS You don't know what might have been, but there were estimated liklihoods. The chance that you would have a free general election in Iraq w/ Saddam? The chance he would attack us with WMD vs. a terrorist group getting control of wmd while our attention focused on Iraq?

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Miguel said...

Thanks to the election in England, this turned up on Crooked Timber the other day. Tony Blair, one month before the invasion:

"Today the path to peace is clear. Saddam can co-operate fully with the inspectors. He can voluntarily disarm. He can even leave the country peacefully. But he cannot avoid disarmament."

If we went to war for "democratic transformation" why did we claim we wouldn't bother if the weapons issue was resolved? Was Blair then lying? Did he only go to war over WMD?

By the way, I agree that before the war the President declared that it would be quite noble to liberate Iraq from the villain Saddam Hussein, create a western-style democracy, and inspire others in the reigon. At that time, the still-correct counter argument was made that it's ridiculous and imperial to start a war to free people, as half the nations in the world are run by despots, and besides which invading a country would only inspire resentment. The idea that Iraq was a military threat was always preposterous, as you and Glenn Reynolds always have time to repeat, but President Bush likely would have likely never been granted the authority to invade had he not promogulated it (and it was a less obvious lie than the other way to justify war -- suggesting a connection between Baath Iraq and the 9-11 massacre).

The reason Bush, Blair, and Clinton so love the idea of "humanitarian war" is in your copy of The Road To Serfdom: it accrues power to their office. They can order the military into action based on not liking someone, which truly is the whole point of running a powerful country.


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